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Pérez-Jiménez Isabel, and Moreno-Quibén, Norberto (2012): “On the syntax of exceptions. Evidence from Spanish”. Lingua 122(6):582–607

Preprint version (The final version is slightly different at some points).

On the syntax of exceptions. Evidence from Spanish

In this paper we offer a syntactic description of Spanish exceptive constructions headed by excepto, salvo or menos (‘except’). Framing our hypothesis in an adjunction analysis of coordination, we argue that these exceptive markers head a Boolean Phrase, like other coordinating conjunctions. Two types of exceptive phrases can be identified, depending on the level of the constituents conjoined. In connected exceptives two DPs are conjoined. In free exceptives two CPs are conjoined; the exceptive markers select for a full-fledged CP as complement, whose null head (C) triggers a process of ellipsis in which all the syntactic material inside TP is marked for PF-deletion, except the remnant constituent(s). Our proposal supports a structural approach to ellipsis whereby elliptical constituents are in fact fully-fledged though non-pronounced syntactic structures. It also supports the hypothesis that the differences in the syntactic behaviour of coordinate sentences and subordinate adverbial clauses cannot be derived from their phrase structure geometry but are instead due to the properties of individual conjunctions.


coordination, free exceptive, connected exceptive, subordination, ellipsis, Spanish

1. Introduction
Natural languages have developed different ways of expressing exceptions to generalizations. In this paper, we explore the grammatical properties of exception phrases or exceptive constructions [hereafter EPs], which are one of the most widespread syntactic mechanisms for encoding exceptions across languages, focussing on Spanish data (see García Álvarez 2008, Hoeksema 1987, 1995, Moltmann 1992, 1995, Peters & Westerståhl 2006, Reinhart 1991, von Fintel 1993, for English; Hoeksema 1995 for Dutch; Moltmann 1992 for German and French, and Bosque 2005 for Spanish; among others). The term exception phrase will be used to refer to phrases consisting of an exception marker –we will restrict our study to excepto, salvo, menos (‘except’)– and a following XP.

A syntactic (and for some authors also semantic) distinction has been made in the literature between two types of EPs: bound or connected exceptives [CEs, hereafter], illustrated for Spanish in (1), and free exceptives [FEs], (2) (see Hoeksema 1995). Both kinds of exceptive constructions are introduced in Spanish by the exceptive markers excepto, salvo, menos (‘except’) (the exceptive phrase is underlined in the examples).

  1. a. El proyecto recibió el apoyo de todas las comunidades,

the project received the support of all the autonomous.regions

excepto el País Vasco.

except the Basque Country

‘The project received the support of all the autonomous regions except the Basque Country.’ [El Diario Vasco, 03/06/2001; CREA]

b. La coincidencia es muy grande con todos salvo Saturno…

the coincidence is very great with all except Saturn

‘The coincidence is very great with all except Saturn.’ [J. Maza, Astronomía contemporánea; CREA]

c. …que se firmará hoy por todos menos el PP. [El País, 01/04/2004; CREA]

which se sign.fut.3sg today by all except the PP

‘…which will be signed today by all [the political parties] except the PP.’

  1. a. …los ‘populares’ logran mayoría en todos los ayuntamientos, excepto en Denia….

the ‘populares’ gain majority in all the town.councils except in Denia

‘…the Popular Party managed to gain a majority in all the town councils, except in Denia.’ [www.redaccionmedica.es]

b. Había charlado con todos, salvo con los muchachos del Simca…

have.past.3sg talked with all, except with the fellows of.the Simca

‘He had talked to everybody, except to the Simca fellows.’ [J. Cortázar, Reunión; CREA]

c. …elección que es aceptada por todos menos por el Papa Luna, quien se

election that is accepted by all except by the Pope Luna, who se

retirará a Peñíscola. [Odiseo Revista de Historia, n. 4; CREA]

retire.fut.3sg to Peñíscola

‘...an election that was accepted by everyone, except by Pope Luna, who then retired in Peñíscola.’
From the syntactic point of view, CEs are generally characterized in the literature on exceptives as ‘DP level’ constituents while FEs are treated as ‘sentence level’ constituents. This loose characterization is related to the fact that in CEs, the exceptive phrase must be adjacent to a DP in the host sentence; CEs cannot be parenthetical constituents, and cannot appear, for example, in fronted position: *Menos el PP, se firmará hoy por todos (lit.: except the PP, se will.be.signed today by everybody) (cf. (1c)). By contrast, FEs have a greater distributional freedom. For example, they can precede the sentence they combine with: Menos por el Papa Luna, es aceptada por todos (lit.: except by the Pope Luna, is accepted by everybody; ‘Except for Pope Luna, it was accepted by everyone’) (cf. (2c)). In Spanish, another difference between CEs and FEs is clearly observed: in CEs, the exceptive markers introduce always a DP, as can be seen in (1); in FEs, the exceptive markers can introduce any maximal constituent, such as PPs, as shown in (2) (also DPs, adverbs or full clauses, as we will see in § 2.1).

Building on this characterization, this paper offers a detailed syntactic analysis of exceptive phrases in Spanish, whether free or connected. Framing our analysis in the Boolean Phrase Hypothesis, originally proposed by Munn (1993), we claim that the exceptive markers excepto, salvo and menos (‘except’) are coordinating conjunctions. The difference between FEs and CEs lies in the level of the constituents conjoined. In free exceptives, full sentences are conjoined. The examples in (2) are thus cases of clause-level coordination where an obligatory ellipsis process takes place within the second sentential conjunct. The constituents following the exceptive conjunction in (2) –the PPs– are thus the remnants of the ellipsis process. This explains why constituents of any category can follow the exceptive marker in FEs, as will be shown in § 2.1. In connected exceptives, the exceptive markers join subclausal nominal constituents. The examples in (1) are thus cases of DP coordination, hence the fact that only DPs are introduced by the exceptive markers in CEs. As we will see, a number of other syntactic asymmetries between FEs and CEs, hitherto unnoticed in the literature, derive from this syntactic analysis.

The typology of exceptive constructions in Spanish is, however, richer than the binary free exceptive vs. connected exceptive opposition. Other markers, like a excepción de, exceptuando, con (la) (sola/única) excepción de, {exceptuando/salvando} a (‘excepting’, ‘with the exception of’), {excepto/salvo} que (‘except that’), also introduce exceptive structures and we will analyse them briefly in § 6. Nevertheless, the existence of a broader set of exceptive constructions does not undermine the core distinction between FEs and CEs, a distinction that is well established in the literature and will constitute the main focus of this article.

Besides providing a detailed syntactic description of exceptive constructions in Spanish, this paper aims to contribute to the current theoretical debate on how meaning can arise in the absence of phonetic form (see Merchant 2009b for a summary of this debate). Specifically, our proposal on the syntactic structure of free exceptives and the fact that locality and connectivity effects are observed in these structures supports a structural approach to ellipsis, according to which fragmentary sentences have a fully-fledged, albeit silent, clausal structure, as opposed to the approaches that claim that there are semantic devices that can generate a full clausal meaning in the absence of a sentential syntactic structure (as proposed in Culicover & Jackendoff 2005, among others, and in García Álvarez 2008 and Lappin 1996b with respect to the structure of FEs). More specifically, we claim that ellipsis must be understood as a two-step process (XP-movement plus PF deletion), along the lines of Merchant (2001, 2003). We will also show that the ellipsis process that, according to our proposal, takes place in free exceptives patterns syntactically like other ‘high-ellipsis’ processes existing in Spanish, such as gapping and polarity ellipsis, both of which have been analysed as involving TP-deletion.

On a larger scale, we will also address the theoretical question of how the boundary between coordination and (non-selected adverbial) subordination must be encoded in the grammar. In particular, we argue in favour of the hypothesis that the differences in the syntactic behaviour of coordinate sentences and subordinate adverbial clauses (for example, those introduced by although, because) cannot be derived by proposing a different phrase structure geometry or generation mechanism but rather are due to the properties of coordinating vs. subordinating conjunctions.

Finally, although it is not the goal of this paper to offer a semantic analysis of exceptive phrases nor a proposal about the syntax-semantics connection involved in these structures, we suggest that our syntactic proposal could straightforwardly connect with a semantic analysis that claims that CEs have a conjunctive non-propositional semantics while FEs have a conjunctive propositional semantics, at least if the well-established hypothesis that CPs—but not DPs—denote propositions is assumed, and we sustain the theoretical desideratum that, in the interface LF component, a one-to-one mapping from syntax to semantics takes place, with additional operations or devices that generate meanings in the absence of syntactic structure kept to a minimum. In this sense, our analysis of CEs as DP-coordination structures and FEs as sentential coordination structures also indirectly connects with the larger debate about the semantic nature of coordinators. Coordinating conjunctions (which, from the syntactic point of view, can coordinate either sentences or sub-sentential constituents) have been analysed, on the one hand, uniformly as (a) propositional connectors or (b) set-forming operators, and, on the other, as non-semantically-uniform elements (i.e. some instances of coordination are propositional while others are group-forming; Johannesen 1998, Partee and Rooth 1983).

The paper is organized as follows. In section 2, we present the basic syntactic differences between connected and free exceptives that have been described in the literature. Since the syntactic characterization of exceptive phrases has been mainly carried out in connection with their semantic analysis, we will also review in this section some of the main semantic proposals about the meaning of EPs existing in the literature. In section 3, we develop our syntactic analysis of EPs in Spanish. We claim that exceptive markers are coordinating conjunctions that coordinate two DPs in CEs. In FEs, sentence-level coordination is involved, with an obligatory subsequent step of ellipsis in the second clausal conjunct. Ellipsis will be analysed as a two-step process involving movement of one or more XP constituents to the left periphery of the elliptical clause followed by PF deletion of its TP node. In this section we will also explain how our proposal can account for the properties of CEs and FEs described in section 2. Sections 4 and 5 will be devoted to providing additional evidence for the different building blocks of our proposal and exploring further empirical consequences or our analysis. The categorial status of exceptive markers as coordinating conjunctions will be argued for in section 4. The different internal structure of CEs and FEs will be empirically supported in section 5. Section 6 will offer a brief description of the syntactic properties of the exceptive phrases introduced by exceptives particles other that excepto, salvo and menos. Finally, section 7 will summarize the conclusions of this paper.

2. Two types of exceptive phrases. Connected and Free
In this section we present the basic syntactic differences between connected and free exceptives that have been acknowledged in the literature for different languages. Given that the (few) existing syntactic proposals about the structure of EPs are closely tied with the semantic analysis developed for them, we will review in this section the two kinds of semantic approaches proposed for CEs and FEs: the non-uniform semantic analysis proposed by Hoeksema (1995), § 2.1, (namely, FEs are propositional in nature, CEs are not) and the uniform analyses offered in Moltmann (1992, 1995) and Reinhart (1991) on the one hand (both FEs and CEs are non-propositional in nature) and García Álvarez (2008) on the other (both FEs and CEs are semantically propositional), § 2.2. The goal of this section is twofold. First, the syntactic properties of CEs and FEs reviewed in this section will constitute the basis of the syntactic analysis we develop for these two kinds of structures. Second, we would like to suggest that, if CEs and FEs have different syntactic properties (crucially, as we will make explicit in § 3, a different internal structure: in CEs the complement of the exceptive marker is a DP; in FEs, it is a full CP), then assuming a uniform semantic analysis for both of them –specifically, arguing for a propositional semantics for CEs– would give rise to a mismatched syntax-to-semantics mapping and would force us to accept the existence of devices that generate meanings in the absence of syntactic structure.
2.1. Basic syntactic differences between connected exceptives and free exceptives. A non-uniform semantics for exceptive phrases (Hoeksema 1995)
As mentioned above, Hoeksema (1987) introduced a seminal distinction between two types of exceptive phrases, connected exceptives and free exceptives, which exist in many languages. In Spanish, the exceptive markers excepto, salvo and menos introduce both CEs, (3), and FEs, (4) (recall also (1) and (2)).

  1. CE: Recibí regalos de todos los asistentes {excepto/salvo/menos} Eva.

get.past.1sg gifts from all the attendees except Eva

‘I received gifts from all those present except Eva.’

  1. FE: Recibí regalos de todos los asistentes, {excepto/salvo/menos} de Eva.

get.past.1sg gifts from all the attendees, except from E.

‘I received gifts from all those present but not from Eva.’

According to Hoeksema (1995), there are syntactic and semantic differences between CEs and FEs. From the semantic point of view, Hoeksema (1995) claims that both kinds of EPs have a conjunctive (subtractive) semantics, but they differ with respect to the kind of constituent they operate on and the kind of semantic entity they subtract. CEs operate semantically at the subsentential level. They operate on universal quantifier phrases, restricting their domain of quantification. The complement of the exceptive marker denotes a set of entities that must be subtracted from the domain of quantification of the universal quantifier in order for the proposition denoted by the whole sentence to be true. In (3a), the exception phrase excepto Eva operates semantically on the universal QP todos los asistentes and changes the domain of quantification of the quantifier by limiting it to a subdomain. Free exceptives, on the other hand, operate semantically at the clause level by introducing exceptions to generality claims. In (4), the FE excepto de Eva operates semantically on the whole host sentence (Recibí regalos de todos los asistentes) and serves to introduce a proposition (roughly, ‘Recibí regalos de Eva’) that is subtracted from the set of propositions denoted by the host (Hoeksema 1995: 87). The propositional interpretation of the string following the exceptive marker is obtained via ‘substitution’. The constituent following excepto (the PP de Eva in (4)) is interpreted within the same sentential frame as its syntactic correlate in the host sentence (the PP de todos los asistentes): Recibí regalos [PP ].1

This kind of non-uniform approach to the semantics of EPs, is supported by basic syntactic differences between connected and free exceptives, as Hoeksema (1995) pointed out. First, CEs and FEs show different positional possibilities. CEs have to be adjacent to the QP they operate on, hence the ungrammaticality of (5) (vs. (3), (1a)). FEs may appear in parenthetical positions inside the host sentence and can be fronted, (6) (cf. (4) and (2a)).

  1. a. *Excepto Eva, recibí regalos de todos los asistentes.

except Eva, get.past.1sg presents from all the attendees

b. *Excepto el País Vasco, el proyecto recibió el apoyo

except the Basque Country, the project received the support

de todas las comunidades.

of all the autonomous.regions

  1. a. Excepto de Eva, recibí regalos de todos los asistentes.

except from Eva, get.past.1sg presents from all the attendees

‘Except for Eva, I received gifts from all those present.’

b. Excepto en Denia, los 'populares' logran mayoría en todos los ayuntamientos.

except in Denia the ‘populares’ gain majority in all the town.councils

‘Except for Denia, the Popular Party managed to gain a majority in all the town councils.’
Second, CEs are licensed only by a restricted set of quantifier phrases; prototypically, universal QPs (recall the examples in (1)). In Spanish, they are not licensed, for example, by other kinds of quantifiers, like la mayoría de (lit. the majority of, ‘most of’), (7a), definite DPs (even class-denoting DPs), (7b), or indefinite DPs in negative contexts, (7c). 2

  1. a. *Veré a la mayoría de los alumnos {excepto/salvo/menos} los de

see.fut.1sg to the majority of the students except the of

matemáticas, el lunes.

maths the Monday

intended: ‘I will meet with most of the students except the maths students on Monday.’

b. *Las águilas no atacan a los leones {excepto/salvo/menos} el león enfermo.

the eagles not attack to the lions, except the lion ill

intended: ‘Eagles won’t attack a lion unless the lion is ill.’

c. *No visitaré a un enfermo {excepto/salvo/menos} este en mi vida.

not visit.fut.1.sg to a ill except this in my life

intended: ‘I will visit no other ill person but this one in my life.’
By contrast, since FEs denote exceptions to generalizations, they are licensed in sentences which express a generality claim. A generalization is obtained, for example, when a generic (null) operator is present in the host sentence, (8). Universally quantified DPs, (2), (4), (6), quantifiers like la mayoría de, (9a), definite DPs, (9b,c),3 or indefinite polarity items in a negative context, (9d), can be present in sentences expressing generalizations and are compatible with FEs.4

  1. a. Es una muchacha inteligente, menos cuando se enamora.

be.pres.3sg a girl intelligent, except when se fall.in.love.pres.3sg

‘She is an intelligent girl except when she falls in love.’ [Bosque 2005: 156, (45)]

b. Nunca nos llamas, excepto cuando necesitas dinero.

never us call.pres.2.sg, except when need.pres.2sg money

‘You never call us except when you need money.’ [Bosque 2005: 143, (14c)]

  1. a. Excepto a los de matemáticas, veré a la mayoría de los alumnos

except to the of maths, see.fut.1sg to the majority of the students

el lunes.

the Monday

‘Except for the maths students, I will meet with most of the students on Monday.’

b. Excepto al león enfermo, las águilas no atacan a los leones.

except to.the lion ill, the eagles not attack to the lions

‘Except for a lion that is ill, eagles will not attack lions.’

c. Los tomates se cultivan en toda la Península Ibérica, excepto el tomate canario.

the tomatoes se grow in all the Península Ibérica, except the tomato canary

‘Tomatoes are grown everywhere in the Iberian Peninsula, except the Canary tomatoe.’ [Bosque 2005: 153, (38a)]

d. No dijo una palabra sobre ese asunto, salvo que no era

not say.past.3sg a word about that issue, except that not be.past.3sg

partidario. [Bosque 2005: 143, (16a)]


‘He didn’t say much with respect to that issue except that he was against it.’

Moreover, as the examples in (10) show, CEs are not licensed by null arguments. The quantifier phrase licensing the CE must be explicit. By contrast, FEs can appear in sentences containing null arguments. In (10a) the CE cannot be linked to the null Goal argument of the verb dar (‘give’). However, the FE is grammatical in this very same context, as (10b) shows (Goal arguments are introduced in Spanish by the preposition a).

  1. a. *Ayer di muchos besos en la fiesta excepto Eva.

yesterday give.past.1sg many kisses in the party except Eva

(Cf. Ayer di muchos besos en la fiesta a todos {menos/excepto/salvo} Eva.)

b. Ayer di muchos besos en la fiesta, excepto a Eva.

yesterday give.past.1sg many kisses in the party except to Eva

‘Yesterday, I gave many kisses in the party, except to Eva.’
On the basis of these differences in positional and combinatorial/licensing possibilities, Hoeksema (1995) suggests that CEs are “postmodifiers of noun phrases”, while FEs are “sentence modifiers”.5 Their ‘external syntax’ is thus different.

With respect to the ‘internal syntax’ of exceptive phrases, remember that only nominal constituents can follow the exceptive particle in the case of CEs, while in FEs any XP-level constituent can follow the exceptive marker heading the construction, such as PPs, (2), (9a,b); DPs, (9c); sentences, (8), (9d); adverbs (Puedes conducir como quieras, excepto más rápido ‘You can drive any way you want except faster’); etc. As Hoeksema (1995) points out, an analysis of FEs as conjunction constructions in which the string following the exceptive marker is the remnant of an elliptical sentence could explain this property. FEs would then be subcases of stripped or gapped (coordinate) conjoined sentences. This is in fact, as Hoeksema (1995) notes, the syntactic analysis sketched in Harris (1982), where exceptive markers are described as coordinators that introduce a full sentence to which a series of reduction transformations (‘zeroing transformation’) apply, giving rise to the free exceptive construction. However, as Hoeksema (1995) also acknowledges, FEs resemble PPs and not coordinate sentences with respect to the positional possibilities mentioned above:

  1. “[…] we cannot simply claim that exception phrases are subcases of Stripping, given that they may appear in sentence-initial position, unlike Stripping or Gapping remnants. In this respect, exception phrases resemble prepositional groups more than conjunction constructions [IPJ&NMQ: i.e. second conjuncts in a sentential coordination structure]. On the other hand, the pied-piping of prepositions is a shared feature of exception phrases and Stripping constructions (cf. e.g. I am talking with your mother, sonny, and not with you/?and not you).” [Hoeksema 1995: 168]

The brief sketch of the syntax of connected and free exceptives provided in Hoeksema’s work will be the point of departure for our analysis. Taking his ideas as a basis, we will claim in section 3 that the exceptive particles excepto, salvo and menos are coordinating conjunctions that coordinate two DPs in the case of CEs and two full sentences in the case of FEs (the second sentential conjunct is subject to an ellipsis process which involves a XP-movement + PF ellipsis process). But before turning to our proposal, we will briefly discuss in the following subsection the syntactic characterization of CEs and FEs made in García Álvarez (2008), Moltmann (1992, 1995) and Reinhart (1991), whereby a uniform semantic analysis has been proposed for both kinds of exceptive constructions.

2.2. Syntactic analyses of exceptive constructions in uniform semantic proposals (García Álvarez 2008; Moltmann 1992, 1995; Reinhart 1991)
Together with non-uniform semantic analyses of connected and free exceptives, uniform analyses have been developed in the literature. On the one hand, Moltmann (1992, 1995) and Reinhart (1991), among others, claim that both CEs and FEs have a non-propositional semantics and operate on QPs. On the other, García Álvarez (2008) claims that both kinds of exceptive constructions have a propositional conjunctive semantics. In this section we will focus on the syntactic analyses that have been proposed for CEs and FEs in connection with these kinds of semantic proposals.

According to Moltmann (1992, 1995) and Reinhart (1991) both CEs and FEs semantically operate on quantified noun phrases: EPs serve to exclude exceptional individuals from consideration so that the truth of the sentence in which the EP occurs can be preserved. Connecting with this semantic proposal, these authors claim that, from the syntactic point of view, CEs and FEs have a similar internal structure: the exceptive marker introduces a NP [DP] in both cases.

Specifically, for Reinhart (1991), exceptive markers are coordinating conjunctions introducing a subsentential constituent in both kinds of exceptive phrases. She nevertheless acknowledges that the positional possibilities of CEs and FEs seem to indicate that CEs are NP[DP]-level constituents while FEs are sentence-level constituents. Accordingly, Reinhart claims that in the case of CEs, the exceptive conjunction coordinates two NPs [DPs]. In FEs, see (12), the exceptive phrase is base-generated in a position conjoined (that is, adjoined) to the IP of the host sentence. Since coordinating conjunctions require categorial identity of the conjuncts, (12a) is uninterpretable. The structure is saved by a LF process of Quantifier Raising of the QP on which the EP operates, followed by NP adjunction, which gives rise to NP coordination, (12b). From the semantic point of view, a predicate is formed in the IP as a consequence of the QR operation, which takes the whole new NP as argument (Reinhart 1991: 367), (12c).6

  1. a. [IP [IP everyone smiled] [NP [CONJ except] [NP Felix]]]

b. [IP [IP ei smiled] [NP [NP everyonei] [NP [CONJ except] [NP Felix]]]]

c. [Everyone except Felix] (x (x smiled)) [Reinhart 1991: 367, (22), (23)]

As an argument for the movement step in the derivation of FEs, Reinhart claims that island effects are observed in these constructions, (13a). However, as Hoeksema (1995) notes, sentences like (9d) above pose a problem for a movement analysis. In (9d), the LF-raising of the object NP (una palabra) had to be proposed, but the negative-polarity status of that NP prohibits moving it out of the scope of negation. Similarly, in an example like (13b), the EP can be taken as modifying both everyone and no one, but it is not possible to adjoin these NPs to the exceptive phrase, as they are contained in a conjoined sentence. Island effects in FEs and behaviours related to the Coordinate Structure Constraint will be dealt with in section 5.2 and 4.3 respectively.

  1. a. *The people who loved every composer arrived except Mozart.

b. Everyone was pleased and no one complained, except John.
Moltmann (1992, 1995) also proposes a parallel semantic analysis for EPs, according to which both CEs and FEs involve a semantic operation on an associated quantifier (1995: 233). From the syntactic point of view, she claims that exceptive markers are prepositions which select for an NP [DP] as complement. The PP projected by the exceptive preposition is adjoined to a QP in CEs, (14a). In FEs, the PP is generated as a sentence adjunct in “adverbial position”, (14b). In the semantic component, a highly constrained semantic relation is established between the PP in sentence-adjoined position and the semantically associated QP in its internal position.7

  1. a. [QP [QP … ] [PP [[P except] NP]]]

b. [IP [IP … QP… ] [PP [P except] [NP John]]]
These kinds of unitary semantic analyses –and also partially uniform syntactic analyses– for CEs and FEs pose a number of problems. First, as Hoeksema (1995) already points out, from the semantic point of view, the characterization of EPs as operators on universal QPs cannot easily explain why FEs appear in sentences in which there is no QP which could be considered an associate of the exceptive construction: Bees will not work, except in darkness (Hoeksema 1995: 148, (16)). Moreover, from the syntactic point of view, examples of FEs like (15) cannot be analysed as cases where the exceptive marker introduces a subsentential phrase, since the string following excepto does not form a syntactic constituent.

  1. Todos los niños bailaron con todas las niñas en todas partes, excepto Juan con

all the boys danced with all the girls in all places, except Juan with

Eva en la cocina.

Eva in the kitchen

‘All the boys danced with all the girls everywhere, except J. with E. in the kitchen.’
Moltmann (1992) considers English examples parallel to (15) as cases where the exceptive preposition introduces a small clause, (16), which semantically denotes a n-tuple of entities () and operates on a polyadic quantifier ().

  1. Every man danced with every woman [P except [SC John [with Mary]]]

Nevertheless, this syntactic proposal cannot explain why in examples like (15) and (16) the hypothesized SC is not Juan Eva cocina or John Mary but Juan con Eva en la cocina and John with Mary; in other words, why the string following the exceptive marker parallels, syntactically speaking, maximal constituents of the antecedent clause. Moltmann’s proposal also has difficulties explaining what the structure of the SC would be in cases like (15), where three XPs follow the exceptive marker. These data, however, receive a straightforward explanation if we analyse FEs as sentential elliptical constituents. We will come back to this in section 3.

Let us now present the syntactic-semantic characterization of EPs made by García Alvarez (2008). According to this author, sentences with EPs are semantically biclausal and express a conjunctive proposition consisting of a generality claim (a proposition with positive or negative polarity) and an exception to that statement (a proposition with inverted polarity) (p. 92).8 However, syntactically speaking, sentences with EPs are monoclausal: exceptive markers are coordinating conjunctions which introduce a subsentential constituent both in CEs and in FEs. This author acknowledges that both kinds of exceptive phrases differ syntactically with respect to the constituent they are coordinated with. CEs are DP level constituents (the exceptive marker coordinates two DPs), (17)9; FEs are sentence-level orphan constituents, (18).

  1. a. Every pugilist except Cassius Clay died. [García Álvarez 2008: 75, (133)]

b. [DP [DP every pugilist] [EP [E except] [DP Cassius Clay]]]

  1. a. Except Wayne, every guest liked the log cabin. [García Álvarez 2008: 189, (66)]

b. [EP [E except] [DP Wayne]] [TP [DP every guest] [T' T [VP liked the log cabin]]]
From these structures, a propositional denotation is built up for the constituent following the exceptive marker. In sentences containing CEs, (17a), the two conjoined propositions each result from the application of the VP (or T′) node denotation to the nominal arguments of the conjunction. Thus, (17) roughly means ‘Every pugilist died & ¬ Cassius Clay died’. As for FEs, a proposition is built up from the orphan constituent, assuming the representation and resolution approach to ellipsis in Dalrymple et al. (1991) or Culicover and Jackendoff’s (2005) proposals on indirect licensing. Schematically, such a process involves: (a) identifying an expression in the host sentence which parallels the right argument of the exceptive conjunction; (b) solving an equation which involves the interpretation of the host by abstracting over the meaning of the parallel expression; and (c) applying the resulting property to the denotation of the complement of the exceptive marker (García Álvarez 2008: 189). Roughly speaking, the meaning of (18) is: ‘Every guest liked the log cabin & ¬ Wayne liked the log cabin’.10 11

This analysis raises several issues. From the syntactic point of view, an analysis of FEs as orphan constituents poses serious syntactic questions. Although an analysis along the lines of Culicover and Jackendoff could explain the inflectional features of the orphan complement of the exceptive particle (its Case marking, the presence of prepositions required for certain arguments, etc.) as indirectly licensed by an antecedent in the context (as these authors propose for fragments or for sluicing), it is totally unclear what the role of the exceptive particle is inside the orphan constituent. If it is a coordinating conjunction, as the author seems to suggest, the following questions arise: what is the first member of the coordination? what is the syntactic position of the conjunction inside the orphan constituent? (see Marti 2009 and Merchant 2009a for arguments against this kind of analysis for fragments). Moreover, in the case of FEs with more than one constituent following the exceptive marker –(15)– it is not clear what the internal structure of the complex orphan constituent is. From the semantic point of view, the proposal that a DP constituent in CEs has a full propositional content must appeal to the existence of semantic devices that generate meanings that are not the output of syntactic structure, in order to solve the syntax-semantics mismatch. Moreover, in the case of FEs, deriving a propositional semantics from a subclausal constituent consistent with the indirect licensing of orphan constituents approach in Culicover and Jackendoff's (2005) implies accepting rules of pragmatic enrichment not well constrained (see Marti 2009 on this topic). What we would like to suggest is that, admitting that FEs have a propositional interpretation, a syntactic proposal in which FEs are syntactically full clauses, as we will claim in section 3, leads to a non-mismatched syntax-semantics mapping and is therefore theoretically superior (see Lechner in press on different theoretical perspectives on the nature of the syntax-semantics interface).

This brief overview of the existing proposals about the syntax and semantics of exceptive constructions makes it clear that, from the syntactic point of view, there is consensus as to the fact that CEs are constituents linked to a NP/DP while FEs are sentence-level constituents. However, there is no consensus on the category of the exceptive markers (they are analysed as prepositions in Moltmann 1992 and as coordinating conjunctions in Reinhart 1991 and García Álvarez 2008; Hoekstra 1995 assesses both proposals), nor is there consensus on whether the exceptive marker introduces a clausal or subclausal constituent, especially in the case of FEs. In the following section we will develop our syntactic analysis for EPs and show how it can explain the properties of CEs and FEs presented so far. We will also make some suggestions regarding the interaction between syntax and semantics. Sections 4 and 5 will be devoted to offering new data and arguments as evidence for the different aspects of our proposal.

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